Qatar is in the middle of overhauling its air force, with a competition for new fighters that has attracted interest from around the world. They’re also busy upgrading their pilot training, to serve with the newly established Air Force Academy in Qatar. In July 2012, Switzerland’s Pilatus Aircraft announced that the QEAF had joined in neighbors in the UAE and Saudi Arabia with an order for 24 of the firm’s high-end PC-21 turboprop trainers, a corresponding Training System, and “an extensive [and long term] logistics support and maintenance package.” The deal’s value wasn’t disclosed, and the exact details of the support agreement could make a big difference. As a point of comparison, however, the UAE’s deal for 25 PC-21s and associated items ran to $511 million in 2009.
The new QEAF academy will receive its 1st aircraft in mid-2014, with training expected to begin in mid-2015. Pilatus says that the PC-21 was picked after a competitive process, which included evaluation in Switzerland and in Qatar. Traditional competitors in the global turboprop trainer market include Pilatus’ own offerings like the PC-7 Mark II. They also include HawkerBeechcraft’s T-6C from the USA, Embraer’s EMB-314 Super Tucano from Brazil, and Korea Aerospace Industries’ KT-1 turboprop trainer, which has been exported to Turkey and Indonesia. The side-by-side German Grob 120TP is making its own bid to enter this field as a full elementary-to-advanced trainer, and Indonesia will use it for initial training duties.